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The 9/11 Commission Report, formally named Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, is the official report of the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 attacks. It was prepared by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (informally sometimes known as the "9/11 Commission" or the "Kean/Hamilton Commission") at the request of the President and Congress, and is available to the public for sale or free download.
The commission convened on November 26, 2002 (441 days after the attack) and their final report was issued on July 22, 2004. The report was originally scheduled for release on May 27, 2004, but a compromise agreed to by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert allowed a sixty-day extension through July 26.
The Commission interviewed over 1,200 people in 10 countries and reviewed over two and a half million pages of documents, including some closely guarded classified national security documents. The Commission also relied heavily on the FBI's PENTTBOM investigation. Before it was released by the Commission, the final public report was screened for any potentially classified information and edited as necessary.
In addition to identifying intelligence failures occurring before the attacks, the report provided evidence of the following:
- Airport security footage of the hijackers as they passed through airport security
- Excerpts from the Flight 93 cockpit voice recording, which recorded the sounds of the hijackers in the cockpit and the passengers' attempts to regain control
- Eyewitness testimony of passengers as they described their own final moments to family members and authorities on airphones and cellphones from the cabins of doomed airliners
The Commission also concluded 15 of the 19 hijackers who carried out the attacks were from Saudi Arabia, but found no evidence the government of Saudi Arabia conspired in the attacks, or that it funded the attackers. Mohamed Atta, the leader of the attacks, was from Egypt. 2 hijackers were from the United Arab Emirates, and 1 was from Lebanon. According to the Commission, all 19 hijackers were members of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, led by Osama bin Laden. In addition, while meetings between al-Qaeda representatives and Iraqi government officials had taken place, the panel had no credible evidence that Saddam Hussein had assisted al-Qaeda in preparing or executing the 9/11 attacks.
The Commission's final report also offered new evidence of increased contact between Iran and al-Qaeda. The report contains information about how several of the 9/11 hijackers passed through Iran, and indicates that officials in Iran did not place entry stamps in their passports. However, according to the report (Chapter 7), there is no evidence that Iran was aware of the actual 9/11 plot. Iran has since implemented several widely publicized efforts to shut down al-Qaeda cells operating within its country.
The Commission Report chose to place blame for failure to notify the military squarely upon the FAA. Ben Sliney, FAA operations manager at Herndon, Virginia, and Monte Belger , FAA Acting Deputy Administrator on 9/11 both stated to the Commission that military liaisons were present and participating in Herndon's response as the events of 9/11 unfolded. Sliney stated that everyone who needed to be notified, including the military, was.
In addition to its findings, the report made extensive recommendations for changes that can be made to help prevent a similar attack. These include the creation of a National Intelligence Director over both the CIA and the FBI, and many changes in border security and immigration policy.
The report is available free of charge online, or can be purchased as a paperback (ISBN 0-393-32671-3). In addition, Barnes and Noble has independently published the report in hardcover with an index (ISBN 0-7607-6806-4).
- Main article: Criticism of the 9/11 Commission
The Report has been accused of not giving the whole story about the warnings the U.S. received prior to the attacks. While the Report did describe that "the system was blinking red" and that an al Qaeda attack was imminent, it did not include the testimony of former CIA director George Tenet to the Commission in January 2004, in which he claimed to have given a specific warning to the Administration in a July 2001 meeting with Condoleezza Rice. Commission members Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton stated that they had not been told about the meeting. But the Boston Globe reported that "it turns out that the panel was, in fact, told about the meeting, according to the interview transcript and Democratic Commission member Richard Ben-Veniste, who sat in on the interview with Tenet."
FAA counter-terrorism expert Bogdan Dzakovic believes that the security failures at airports that allowed the hijackers to board the planes were not due to the failures in the system that the Report identified. Furthermore, he stated that "Many of the FAA bureaucrats that actively thwarted improvements in security prior to 9/11 have been promoted by FAA or the Transportation Security Administration." The report did not mention his name, despite Dzakovic giving the following testimony to the Commission regarding his undercover checks on airport security prior to 9/11:
We breached security up to 90 percent of the time. The FAA suppressed these warnings. Instead, we were ordered not to write up our reports and not to retest airports where we found particularly egregious vulnerabilities, to see if the problems had been fixed. Finally, the agency started providing advance notification of when we would be conducting our 'undercover' tests and what we would be 'checking.' . . . What happened on 9/11 was not a failure in the system. Our airports are not safer now than before 9/11. The main difference between then and now is that life is now more miserable for passengers.
Other sources have criticized the Commission for not digging deep enough to get to the core of the issues. In a 2004 interview, Bernard Gwertzman, of the Council on Foreign Relations , stated of the Report:
Again, one of the great problems in the commission report is that it looked at exactly one issue — counterterrorism — and none of the others. But [U.S.] intelligence users consist of more than one million people, many of them in uniform, and when you talk about budgeting and programming authority, you have to consider that. . . . Many of these conclusions are probably very valuable. But this is a 13-chapter report. Eleven chapters are a masterful description of what happened and what went wrong that led to the 9/11 attack. There is no chapter that explains what people did after 9/11. There is no chapter that qualifies that this is only one of many problems in intelligence and intelligence reform."
In a 2004 article titled, 'Whitewash as Public Service: How The 9/11 Commission Report defrauds the nation,' Harper's Magazine writer Benjamin DeMott stated that:
The plain, sad reality . . . is that The 9/11 Commission Report, despite the vast quantity of labor behind it, is a cheat and a fraud. It stands as a series of evasive maneuvers that infantilize the audience, transform candor into iniquity, and conceal realities that demand immediate inspection and confrontation. . . . At the core of all these failures lies a deep wariness of earnest, well-informed public debate."
Although government reports are not known for their prose, the Report garnered much praise for its literary qualities. Richard Posner, writing for the New York Times, praised it as "uncommonly lucid, even riveting" and called it "an improbable literary triumph". The Report rose to the top of several bestseller lists and was praised by reviewers for its readability and narrative strength. In a surprising move, the National Book Foundation named the Report a finalist in its 2004 National Book Awards's non-fiction category.
In 2006, The 9/11 Commission Report, a straight to DVD movie, was released by The Asylum. It is based on the findings of the original 9/11 Commission Reports, although it does fictionalize some elements.
The report inspired a controversial television miniseries, The Path to 9/11. Dramatizing many specific scenes in the report, it is a synthesis of multiple (and in some cases partisan) sources in addition to the report itself.
The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation (ISBN 0-8090-5739-5), by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón, and published by Hill & Wang, is an abridged graphic novel adaptation of the report.
On Native Soil is a documentary of the 9/11 Commission report narrated by Kevin Costner & Hilary Swank.
Lots of info on extra documents: 
- "9/11 Commission finds 'deep institutional failings'". Abc.net.au. 2004-07-23. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- "9/11 probe clears Saudi Arabia". BBC News. 2004-06-17. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- "National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States: Twelfth Public Hearing". 9-11commission.gov. 2004-06-17. Retrieved 2009-11-12. "Available to us at the Command Center of course is the military cell, which was our liaison with the military services. They were present at all of the events that occurred on 9/11." (Sliney) "...there were military people on duty at the FAA Command Center, as Mr. Sliney said. They were participating in what was going on." (Belger)
- "National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States". Govinfo.library.unt.edu. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- Rood, Justin (2006-10-03). "TPMmuckraker October 3, 2006 11:42am – Why Did 9/11 Panel Omit "Secret" Meeting?". Tpmmuckraker.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- Eggen, Dan (2006-10-03). "Tenet told 9/11 panel that he warned Rice of Al Qaeda – The Boston Globe". Boston.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- Bill Katovsky (2006-07-09). "San Francisco Chronicle – Flying the deadly skies/Whistle-blower thinks the state of U.S. aviation security invites another attack". Sfgate.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- "Cordesman: 9/11 Commission Report Lacks Specifics – Council on Foreign Relations". Cfr.org. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
- "Whitewash as Public Service". Harpers.org. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: 9/11 Commission Report|
- The 9/11 Commission Report – Authorized Edition(2.3 MB PDF)
- Video of 9/11 events (split screen) supplemented with text from Commission Report findings
- Slate's The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón
- The Shea Memorandum to the 9/11 Commission
- 9/11 panel report: 'We must act' – from CNN
- Bush vows to heed 9/11 report advice – from MSNBC
- 9/11 Report: Key Findings from the BBC
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